Riley and Samuel, Jennifer Carroll’s sons, help deliver popcorn to a medical department that was involved in a transplant in a previous year. Operation Popcorn is BC Transplant’s way of saying thank you to medical staff for their role in ilfesaving transplants. (FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIFER CARROLL)

Riley and Samuel, Jennifer Carroll’s sons, help deliver popcorn to a medical department that was involved in a transplant in a previous year. Operation Popcorn is BC Transplant’s way of saying thank you to medical staff for their role in ilfesaving transplants. (FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIFER CARROLL)

One family’s decision gives three people the ultimate gift on Christmas Day

Jennifer Carroll of Port Alberni has a special reason to reflect on the spirit of giving

Jennifer Carroll of Port Alberni has a special reason to reflect on the spirit of giving each holiday season. Her mother, Allison Sears, gave the gift of life as an organ donor on Christmas Day 2015.

Carroll is sharing her story as part of BC Transplant’s 29th annual Operation Popcorn campaign.

In the past Operation Popcorn has seen organ donor recipients, family members of organ donors and representatives from BC Transplant deliver festive boxes of popcorn to staff in hospital intensive care units, operating rooms and emergency departments that have been involved in a transplant in some way. Carroll and her sons, Riley and Samuel, have participated in the past.

This year because of the coronavirus pandemic, deliveries happened directly or popcorn was dropped off by BC Transplant staff members.

Popcorn was delivered this year to seven hospitals on Vancouver Island, including Tofino General Hospital. Others were North Island Hospital Campbell River and District; North Island Hospital Comox Valley; Cowichan District Hospital; Nanaimo Regional General Hospital; Royal Jubilee and Victoria General Hospital.

Allison Sears was an optician living on Gabriola Island when she suffered a sudden brain hemorrhage on Dec. 24, 2015.

Carroll, her brother and father all knew Allison was registered as an organ donor, so when the time came, the decision to donate her organs was easy. Three people received life-saving organ transplants, and one person received Sears’ corneas.

“So much of what made those raw early days after my mom died easier was holding those three families in my hearts,” Carroll said.

“It’s Christmas and everything is so horrible, but imagine someone else is going to get that call on Christmas Day,” she said was the thought running through her mind.

“My mother was selfless in life and death,” she said. “Losing my mother broke my heart but I have found so much happiness and a sense of peace as a result of her being an organ donor. Her generous gifts mean other families are still sharing beautiful moments here on earth.”

The coronavirus pandemic may have altered Operation Popcorn this year, but the need for organ donors has not decreased. There are currently 750 people in B.C. waiting for transplants.

There is one message Carroll said people always miss when she tells her story. “People are under the misconception that (doctors) don’t work hard to save your life if you’re an organ donor. It’s so not true. Your life matters just as much and they’re still working hard.

“With my mom, she almost had no brain activity. We couldn’t have done anything differently for her.”

When the family brought up the fact Allison had signed an organ donor card, “a completely different team stepped in.

“They took such good care of us, and they took such good care of my mom too.”

Carroll said it has been enough years now that she would like to meet the people who received organs from her mother, if they are willing. Rules have changed in British Columbia in the past few years to allow recipients and donor families to meet.

“From what I’ve been told, everyone is doing amazing. I try to make peace to know they’re out there in the world and that would be enough. But we don’t get over losing our parents.”

To learn more about organ donation and to register to be an organ donor, go online to www.transplant.bc.ca.

Island HealthPORT ALBERNIVancouver Island Health Authority

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Jennifer Carroll, right, with her mother, Allison Sears, on Carroll’s wedding day. Sears died of a brain hemorrhage, but was able to donate organs to save three lives on Christmas Day five years ago. (DANIEL MA/ d’Soleil Photography)

Jennifer Carroll, right, with her mother, Allison Sears, on Carroll’s wedding day. Sears died of a brain hemorrhage, but was able to donate organs to save three lives on Christmas Day five years ago. (DANIEL MA/ d’Soleil Photography)

Samuel, left, in green T-shirt and his brother Riley Carroll help deliver popcorn to a medical department that had a role in a transplant during BC Transplant’s annual Operation Popcorn. (FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIFER CARROLL)

Samuel, left, in green T-shirt and his brother Riley Carroll help deliver popcorn to a medical department that had a role in a transplant during BC Transplant’s annual Operation Popcorn. (FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIFER CARROLL)

Jennifer Carroll, right, of Port Alberni and her mother, Allison Sears, who died suddenly five years ago, but not before helping to save three lives and give another the gift of sight. (PHOTO COURTESY JENNIFER CARROLL)

Jennifer Carroll, right, of Port Alberni and her mother, Allison Sears, who died suddenly five years ago, but not before helping to save three lives and give another the gift of sight. (PHOTO COURTESY JENNIFER CARROLL)

Just Posted

New figures show Canadian housing prices outpacing those in other developed countries. (Black Press Media file photo)
Canadian housing prices fastest rising in the world

Relative to 2000, housing prices have risen by a factor of more than 2.5

Victoria’s economy is expected to bounce back fairly easily, according to a new report from BMO Capital Markets released April 15. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria in good position to bounce back post-pandemic, says BMO

City’s smaller size, lower COVID-19 caseload and diverse industry base bode well

Three new flight exposures have been reported departing from or arriving at the Victoria International Airport between April 7 and 11. (File photo/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Three flight exposures reported at Victoria International Airport

One flight on April 7 and two on April 11 had confirmed cases of COVID-19 onboard

A case of COVID-19 has been confirmed at David Cameron Elementary School. People may have been exposed on April 14 to 16. (Black Press Media file photo)
COVID-19 exposure confirmed at Colwood elementary school

Exposure at Esquimalt’s Ecole Victor-Brodeur also confirmed

According to Statistics Canada, the unemployment rate in Greater Victoria rose to 5.7 per cent in March 2021, an increase of 0.8 per cent compared to February 2021. But the local unemployment rate remains the among the lowest in Canada. (Black Press Media File)
Greater Victoria’s unemployment rate rises to 5.7 per cent

The increase marks a reversal from recent months, but local economy among the strongest in Canada

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Nothing stopping provinces from offering AstraZeneca vaccine to all adults: Hajdu

Health Canada has licensed the AstraZeneca shot for use in people over the age of 18

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Rules against RV living hard on Island residents caught in housing crunch

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Most Read